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Treatment of hypertrophic scars and keloids using intense pulsed light (IPL).

BACKGROUND: Keloids and hypertrophic scars are extremely disturbing to patients, both physically and psychologically. This study prospectively assessed the safety and efficacy of intense pulsed light (IPL) on scars originating from burns, trauma, surgery, and acne.

METHODS: Hypertrophic scars in 109 patients, originating from surgical incisions (n = 55), traumatic cuts (traffic accidents) (n = 24), acne scars (n = 6), keloids (n = 5), and burns (n = 19), were treated using an IPL Quantum device. Treatment was administered at 2-4-week intervals, and patients received an average of 8 treatments (range = 6-24). Using digital photographs, Changes in scar appearance were assessed by two physicians who were blinded to the study patients and treatments. The photographs were graded on a scale of 0 to 4 (none, minimal, moderate, good, excellent) for improvement in overall clinical appearance and reduction in height, erythema, and hardness.

RESULTS: An overall clinical improvement in the appearance of scars and reductions in height, erythema, and hardness were seen in the majority of the patients (92.5%). Improvement was excellent in 31.2% of the patients, good in 25.7%, moderate in 34%, and minimal in 9.1%. Over half the patients had good or excellent improvement. In the preventive IPL treatment group, 65% had good to excellent improvement in clinical appearance. Patient satisfaction was very high.

CONCLUSION: This study suggests that IPL is effective not only in improving the appearance of hypertrophic scars and keloids regardless of their origin, but also in reducing the height, redness, and hardness of scars.

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